First Cheetah Cubs Born in Malawi in over 20 Years!

It’s a time for historic moments in Africa (yes, we are referring to the forced resignation of Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, after 37 years in power!), and speaking of great changes and optimism for the future, we have to share our excitement the magnificent Liwonde National Park in Malawi. Cheetah cubs have been born in the park after a successful translocation of 4 adult cheetahs earlier this year, and they are the first cubs to be born in the country in over 20 years. Even more significantly, they are the first cheetahs to be born in Liwonde in over 100 years! An effort of African Parks, Department of National Parks and Wildlife, and Endangered Wildlife Trust; this conservation success story is one for the books.

Mvuu Lodge and Mvuu Camp are now enjoying not only the natural scenic splendour of Liwonde, but the new protection and security that has provided the safety for crucial wildlife translocations. 500 Elephants have found a new home in the park, and now the cheetah population has shown its first signs of expansion.

Take a look at the timeline of events reported by the parties involved over the last couple of months, which saw the cheetahs adapt to their new home:

Cheetah release, Liwonde National Park, FrankWeitzer

Cheetah release, Liwonde National Park, Frank Weitzer

22 May 2017

CONSERVATION BREAKTHROUGH: In what can be described as yet another conservation breakthrough, African Parks has reintroduced four cheetah to Liwonde National Park in Malawi. The four animals, two males and two females, arrived in Liwonde mid last week and have now settled well in the temporary holding boma. Once habituated to Liwonde, they will be released into the greater Park area. This is positive news for cheetah whose numbers have declined dramatically across Africa in recent years. It is also a conservation milestone for Malawi as the last cheetah sighting was in the region of 20 years ago. Cheetah last roamed the plains on the Shire river over 100 years ago!

Here is hoping that they settle well to become the nucleus of further conservation success for Malawi! Our thanks go to our partners Endangered Wildlife Trust for sourcing the best possible animals and Robin Pope Safaris/Ulendo for the assistance with transporting them to Malawi. Photo credits to Frank Weitzer and Bentley Palmer.

Cheetah release, Liwonde National Park, Frank Weitzer

5 June 2017

CONSERVATION ACTION ON WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY! Wondering what Liwonde was up to on World Environment Day? At 09:00 we released the first of four cheetah from the bomas and he is now free roaming in Liwonde. He will be followed in the next 10 days by the other three. Management will keep track of him via satellite and VHF collar monitoring. We’ll keep you up to date on his progress in the coming weeks.
Or better still, come to Liwonde in person to look for him! Great game viewing to come!

14 June 2017

Here’s an update from our team about an early morning cheetah sighting, which guests at Mvuu Camp and Mvuu Lodge were able to enjoy:

“This morning our guides, Thom and Duncan, spotted the cheetah that was recently released from the boma, along the Ntangai river just before concrete drift. Most of our guests from Mvuu as well as a few staff members, were able to enjoy the sighting and watch the cheetah rest undisturbed in a shady spot.” 

The cheetah was released far away from the camps, but seems to be exploring the nearby area. Stay tuned for more updates and sighting reports from our team in the field.

Cheetah release in Liwonde National Park

11 July 2017

African Parks: “In 2016, park rangers conducted more than 5,000 patrol days, removed over 16,000 snares and built 117 km of perimeter fencing to ensure both humans and wildlife could be safe and secure (Liwonde is also home to the ‘500 Elephant’ translocation which is helping to reduce conflict in the park). All four cheetahs have since been released and are adapting well to the new environment. Join us in welcoming them to their new home and celebrating predator restoration in Malawi!”

Cheetahs released in Liwonde National Park

1 September 2017

It has now been 3 months since the release of the cheetah from the boma. Good news is that they seem to have settled into their respective home ranges and are all thriving. They have made plenty of kills, focussing mainly on impala and bushbuck, as expected. From the map you will notice that 3 of the cheetah spend much of their time in the southern region of the park. Chinguni Hill, flood plain all the way up until the Mwalasi river and plains. Only one male resides to the north of that, just to the South of Mvuu Camp. The big news is that at least one mating event has been confirmed and we hope to announce some small spotty cubs sometime in October! Come and join the search for these most beautiful carnivores.

15 October 2017 (sure enough…)
CHEETAH CUBS: Today is Mother’s Day in Malawi and, purely coincidentally, our cheetah monitor located the first cheetah cubs born in Liwonde in over 100 years, this morning. They are also the first in Malawi for well over 20 years. This is a huge breakthrough for the conservation of this species in Malawi. Happy Mother’s Day cheetah mom CF2!
Cheetah cubs born in Liwonde National Park
Cheetah cubs born in Liwonde National Park
11 November 2017
CHEETAH UPDATE: When our wild cheetah female, CF2, gave birth to her cubs it was decided to monitor them at their den site via camera traps so as to reduce disturbance to her. It is common for the female to move the den site regularly so as to avoid drawing unwanted attention to her cubs from possible predators. When our monitor went into recover the camera traps and place them at the new den site she was startled to see not 2 (as originally reported), but 4 cheetah cubs, who have visibly begun to explore their voices and environment now that their eyes are open. 

It is possible that CF2 initially split the cubs for their own protection and survival. Cheetah do not always manage to raise complete successful litters as there are plenty of predators like lions, hyena, baboon and birds of prey who will kill any cub they encounter. Every day that passes increases the chances that the cubs will survive and contribute to this important new wild Malawian cheetah population in Liwonde National Park. Supported by the Endangered Wildlife Trust.

Cheetah cubs born in Liwonde National Park

22 November 2017 (and it appears that there are two separate litters of cubs, meaning that each both female cheetahs successfully gave birth and are now looking after 3 and 4 cubs respectively).

“Aaaahhh” did we hear you say? Nothing better than a bit of mid week cuteness and cheetah update from our cheetah monitor, Olivia Sievert. CF2 is proving to be a super mom and has so far successfully raised her 4 little cubs. All eyes are open and they appear to be super healthy. When not out hunting she will either be with the cubs feeding them or close by keeping a close watch for potential danger. CF1 and her 3 cubs are also doing very well, an interesting observation was that both females chose to have their cubs in close proximity to each other. We can not wait to finally see these little guys accompanying their moms on hunts. Watch this space for more.

Cheetah cubs born in Liwonde National Park

Author: Chloe Cooper

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